New York Times bestselling author Fern Michaels’s timeless classic HEY, GOOD LOOKING is the heartfelt story of two childhood friends ripped apart by tragedy, and the one left behind who discovers true love in the last place she expected. Keep reading for an excerpt below and pick up the repackaged edition today, featuring a gorgeous new cover!
Ten Years Earlier
The rain that had been holding off for the graduation ceremony finally gave way to a torrential torrent, soaking the graduating class, their scrolls in hand, and their families and guests as they scrambled across the stadium field.
Darby Lane shouted to her friend Russell Gunn. He appeared at her side as if by magic, his handsome face alight with laughter. “Is this great or what?” he shouted to be heard over the melee. They held hands like lovers as they crossed the field, taking their time since they were already soaked to the skin. Though they weren’t lovers, they had been inseparable friends since the age of three, and both of them knew the situation would never change. Their laughter rang out as they skipped and stomped in the puddles. Their classmates turned to look at them, shaking their heads in disbelief.
When they finally reached the parking lot, the couple separated. “Meet you back at your place, Darby. An hour at the most.”
“Okay,” Darby shouted to be heard over the pounding rain. “I’m packed and ready to go.”
“We need to make a stop before we head for home. Don’t forget anything because we aren’t coming back here. Five years is enough! Now we get to do the real thing, mold minds so they can go out and conquer the world. God, Darby, I can’t wait to settle into a school and take on a fifth-grade class that’s all mine. I hope you get the fourth-grade class you want, too. Look at it this way, you get to prime all those great little kids, then you pass them on to me.”
Darby laughed and crossed her fingers that it would happen just the way Russ said. She shrugged off the rain that was soaking into her graduation gown and used the hem of the gown to dry off her dark, curly hair. Russ was right, five years was long enough to spend expanding her brain base. All she wanted now was to go home to the Horseshoe and vegetate for the rest of the summer.
As she fought her way across the parking lot, she craned her neck to wave good-bye to Tulane University. She wondered if she would return for class reunions. Probably not. She knew Russ wouldn’t return. Russ’s philosophy was do something once, move on, and don’t look back. She tended to agree with most of his philosophies.
Darby wondered where Russ wanted to stop. Probably some watering hole to say good-bye to one of his earthy friends. She laughed. Russ was such a good friend. What would she do without him in her life?
She hadn’t wanted to come back here for her master’s, but Russ insisted. The aunts insisted, too. She’d given in gracefully, and now she had the degree. What she would do with it was anyone’s guess. She’d put her foot down, though, when it came to the doctoral program. She’d flapped her arms, screaming, no, no, no! The aunts had looked at her in horror. Russ just stared at her. She’d won that one. The good feeling was still with her.
The driveway leading to the small private house she’d rented for the last five years loomed ahead of her. She pulled in and cut the engine. It didn’t seem possible, but it was raining harder. She craned her neck to see if Russ’s car was in the driveway four houses down from where she lived, but she couldn’t see through the rain. Not that it mattered. If Russ said he would see her in an hour, she would see him in an hour. Punctuality was Russ’s middle name.
Darby ran through the onslaught of rain, up a path that bloomed with bright yellow marigolds, on up the four steps to the wide veranda, then indoors, where she dripped gallons of water. She started to shed her clothes, the clinging, graduation gown, her sodden tee shirt and shoes as she made her way to the second floor where her bedroom and sitting room were located.
Darby took a minute to notice the small living room, now bare of her treasures, things from home that made the five years bearable. Everything was packed and ready by the front door for Russ to load into her car.
Within minutes, Darby was stripped to the skin, toweling off and pulling clean, dry clothes from one of the packed suitcases. Sandals, wrinkled khaki shorts, bright green tee, and a matching circlet to pull back her long, dark hair. The heck with makeup.
The wet clothes and towel went into one of the lawn bags waiting to be taken to the Dumpster at the end of the street. Like she really wanted that gown or the sodden mortarboard. She was finished with Tulane. She had her diploma, which would go into a drawer someplace when she got home.
Free! No more books! No more papers to write. No more early-morning classes. No more late nights of studying. She felt giddy at the thought.
Darby leaned back on the worn sofa and propped her feet on the coffee table. How many nights had she and Russ sat on the floor eating pizza and studying together? More than she could count. She laced her hands behind her head and waited for her best friend in the whole world to arrive.